Abstract

The Golden Mile at Kalgoorlie represents a giant Archean hydrothermal gold system localized by ductile shear zones and hosted mainly by a differentiated tholeiitic sill. Chlorite, carbonate, and pyrite alteration zones cover the whole mineralized area (1 km × 3 km), and calculations suggest that for the Golden Mile (production around 1200 t Au), the amounts of components added to these alteration zones are 340 Mt CO2, 20 Mt K, and 5 Mt S. If one adopts a metamorphic-replacement model for gold mineralization in which all ore components derive from devolatilization of greenstones at amphibolite facies or above, these data suggest that a source area involving a 5 km thick greenstone slab of area 8 km × 8 km could produce the necessary CO2, K, S, H2O, and Au. This is considered a reasonable volume of greenstone belt, and under such a model the minimum spacing of large gold deposits would be approximately 20 km along strike.Neither special Au-enriched source rocks nor unreasonably large volumes of greenstone belt are required to produce a giant gold deposit. Instead, the most critical parameters are suitable structural environments providing focussing of fluids and multiple channelways through specific Fe-rich, low-tensile-strength host rocks to ensure efficient depositional mechanisms.

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